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Online College for Career Advancement Research Guide

Evaluating Articles

There are several factors to consider when evaluating journal articles. 


Is the article scholarly or peer-reviewed?


"Peer reviewed" (or "refereed") means that an article is reviewed by experts in that field before the article gets published. Some databases allow you to limit your search to Peer Reviewed or Refereed articles. Often you can click on the journal title in a database and get information about that journal, including if it is peer-reviewed.


You can also check to see if a journal is peer-reviewed using Ulrich’s, a directory of all journals, magazines, news, and any other periodically-released resource. Type the journal title in the search box (leave off  A, The, An, etc. at the start of the title) and either hit "Enter" or click on the search button (green magnifying glass).


Find your title in the search results and click on it to see the record. Look for “Refereed” and “Yes.” If you do not see “Refereed” in the Basic Description column, it is not. Refereed is the same as peer-reviewed.


Is the article timely?


For some assignments the articles should be published within the last 5 or 10 years. Most databases let you limit the search to articles published within a specified range of years.


Is the article relevant?


The articles you use should be relevant to your research topic and to each other.  One way to find relevant articles is to use search terms appropriate for your topic. Another important step is reading and critiquing the article. Once you have read and critiqued the article, you can decide if it is relevant to your topic.


If you have any questions about evaluating an article, please do not hesitate to ask a librarian for help. 

Qualitative versus Quantitative

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research methods are focus groups, interviews, content analysis, etc. In short, the data collected will mostly be words. 


Quantitative Research 

Quantitative research methods focus on collection numerical data. In short, the data collected will be numbers, such as sampling and statistics. 


Mixed Methods

Mixed methods articles include a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.


On this page are examples of abstracts of different types of research articles. We have highlighted the information you are looking for when you are evaluating and article.

Examples of Review, Quantitative and Qualitative Articles

This is an example of a review article. The author selected existing research articles on the topic and examined them, critiquing the existing literature.

Permalink to article record


Click the arrow to move to the next slide. 

Example of review article. Certain sections have been highlighted. This article has been peer-reviewed. It uses phrases that indicates that several articles were reviewed and examined, critiquing the existing literature. At the bottom, it says Reports - Evaluative which is another indication that this could be a review article.

This is an example of a quantitative article abstract.

Besides containing the word, quantitative, this abstract references the article's methodology and refers to a statistical analysis and cluster analysis, which are quantitative features.   

Permanent link to article record


Click the arrow to continue to the qualitative article. 

Example of an quantitative review abstract. Keywords have been selected that represent a quantitative methodology like multivariate analysis and statistical analysis. In the abstract itself it uses the word quantitative. The type of report at the bottom indicates it is a research report, which leads to the conclusion that this is an example of a quantitative research article.

This is an example of a qualitative article abstract. 

Besides containing the Descriptor, Qualitative Research, it also contains a descriptor for Semi-Structured Interviews, which fits with qualitative data collection.  Further evidence that supports its qualitative nature are the phrases content analysis and descriptive analysis.

Permalink to article record

Example of a qualitative review abstract.Descriptors include words like: Qualitative Research, Semi-Structured Interviews,  Observation, Classroom Observation Techniques. The word qualitative is also used in the abstract.